Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl: A Book Birthday


Hello everyone! I apologize for being more absent from this blog than usual. A bit of radiation was added to my ongoing treatment schedule, which messed with my writing life for a bit. To make up for my absence, though, I have a special treat for you.

February 1st will be a very special book birthday. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, a historical fiction debut novel published by Namelos and written by a wonderful writer, and my friend as well as critique pal, Shannon Hitchcock, will be officially released. Insert celebration dance here.

Already this novel has received lovely reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. (PW review here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-60898-142-7.

As if this is not enough reason to break out the party cake, the amazing Richard Peck liked Jessie Pearl enough to write a cover blurb for the novel: “With the poetry of plain speaking, Shannon Hitchcock recreates the daily drama of a vanished world.” Wow. Let loose the balloons and confetti.

Inspired by Shannon’s family history, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl begins in 1922. Young and spirited Jessie has big plans for her life, until tuberculosis forces her to put her dreams on hold. Oh, and she falls in love for the first time, too. Pushed into confronting what she really wants, and what she is willing to sacrifice for it, Jessie learns that fighting for one’s dreams can be anything but simple.

Not only is Shannon a wonderful writer, she is also proving to be a whiz at marketing and promotion. She spoke on January 18th at the Florida SCBWI conference on a panel of debut authors, she is slated to speak at NCTE on a panel of southern authors in November, and she’s sold numerous copies of her novel out of the back of her car. Impressed yet? I am. So, I thought we’d chat with Shannon about marketing a debut novel.

Welcome, Shannon! So, how much of the marketing and promoting are you taking on (as compared to what your publisher may be doing)?

I look at marketing as a partnership. My publisher sent out approximately 150 copies of my book to reviewers and awards committees. Those are contacts that I don’t have on my own. I’m always reminded of a quote from Joyce Sweeney, “Your publisher is doing more than you think they are.”


What resources did you find most helpful in guiding you on how to market and promote your debut novel?

Lisa Schroeder has a handy “Timeline and Checklist for YA or MG Book Release” posted on her blog. http://www.lisaschroederbooks.com/2010/02/timeline-and-checklist-for-ya-of-mg.html.
I also highly recommend Katie Davis’s e-book: HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK. Oh, and use SCBWI. I wrote an article for my regional chapter and I spoke at the Miami conference.

Can I get you to share some of your marketing strategies, or how you have been or will be promoting? For example, how do you go about selling books out of your car?

I’ve made it my mission to contact all of my friends and relatives, contacts my publisher doesn’t have. I started by writing a letter to everyone on my Christmas card list and inserting two bookmarks. I invited the recipients to read my book and asked that they pass the extra bookmark to a friend who might also enjoy it. As for selling from the back of my car, I try and keep about ten copies of my book in the backseat. I’ve chatted up my book at church, the beauty salon, even the drycleaners, and then if anyone expresses interest in buying, I have a book handy to sell them.
I also uploaded my book trailer to YouTube, Vimeo, TeacherTube, and to my Goodreads author’s page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRXyeIJ4js8.

Since I hope JESSIE will be used in classrooms, I also worked with Debbie Gonzales to create a Curriculum Guide that is linked to the new Common Core State Standards. It’s available for free downloads, too: http://www.shannonhitchcock.com/forteachers.html.

I also gave my website a facelift to focus on my new book.

How much do you use social media, such as Face Book and Twitter, to promote? 

I try and tweet and post to Facebook a couple of times a day.

What would you suggest to someone just starting to promote his or her first novel?  What would you advise against?

Have bookmarks made as soon as your cover art is final. Bookmarks are relatively inexpensive and people love getting something for free. I advise against doing anything you detest. One of my critique mates hates to blog. She tried it and it’s not for her. I think if you hate doing something that you’ll find every excuse to avoid it.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m afraid I’m leaving out some vital pieces of the marketing puzzle. Maybe your readers will share tips and strategies in the comments section so that we can all help each other.

Thank you, Shannon! Wishing you every success with The Ballad of Jessie Pearl!
For more on Shannon and her fabulous novel, hit these links:

43 comments:

  1. Cynthia - Shannon's novel sounds wonderful, and her marketing tips were awesome too. It was great to see your name pop up on my reader! Take Care ~

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    1. Thanks, Victoria! Shannon's novel is great, I think. ; )

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  2. Nice interview, and some great tips, too. Nice to see you online, I hope your treatment is going well.

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    1. Thank you, Jeff! Shannon is a marketing whiz.
      And the treatments seem to be going well. Yea!

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  3. Radiation? Oh Cynthia!! Don't worry about the blog - you must look after yourself and get better!

    All the best to Shannon - thank you for sharing Jessie Pearl's amazing cathartic journey! take care
    x

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    1. Aww, thanks Old Kitty. I believe I am getting better.

      And it was my pleasure to share Shannon's fabulous novel with you.

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  4. Sounds like Shannon has a great book on her hands. I know a couple of girls in my class who would be interested in it already :)

    Hope the radiation is going well - it can drain you so make sure you take good care of yourself! I'll be thinking of you :)

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    1. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl is a great read, Jemi. I bet your students will love it!

      Happily, the radiation is behind me now and I'm regaining some energy! Hurray for that. Thank you so much.

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  5. Huge congrats to Shannon. February 1st will be an exciting day for her!

    I enjoyed hearing about Shannon's relationship with her publisher. Very insightful.

    Hi, Cynthia!

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    1. Hi Emily! : )
      I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Shannon has already had much excitement, which is so well deserved.

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  6. Hi, Cynthia, I hope things are going okay for you.

    I'm impressed with Shannon's efforts in the marketing and PR department. Ya know, I never quite realized jut how many books publishers send out for advanced reviews. It's a great way to create a buzz. It also sounds as if Shannon is doing a good job on her own.

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    1. Hi Joy! Truly, Shannon is impressive. I love how she's sold books out of her car. And those reviews can be a huge boost in creating buzz.

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  7. Richard Peck! Congratulations Shannon!

    And you Cynthia, I have been keeping in my thoughts. I hope you remain strong and that your health is improving.

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    1. Congrats to Shannon is right, Bish. A writer knows that she's done well when Richard Peck applauds her novel and writing.

      Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts, Bish. I am staying strong and improving with every day. ; )

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  8. Congratulations are in order. Thanks for the tip's. I'll pass them along to a few friends I know that are looking for promotion ideas.

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  9. Okay, Shannon is coming around with me to chat up my book once it's released. :D

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  10. Woohoo and congrats to Shannon. Fun interview.

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  11. Hi Cynthia, Hello Shannon!

    Thanks for the marketing tips. And the interview was great, thanks ladies!

    Congratulations on the release Shannon!

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  12. Very cool blog. Interesting posts. ;)
    Nice atmosphere guests with you here on the blog. ;]
    Yours. Have a nice day. !

    Follow me on facebook fanpage and blog
    I'm very concerned about this, please. :)
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-another-light/413836138693856

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  13. What a great post - very educational! Thanks for sharing the tips.

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    1. Thank you so much, Susan! Shannon has lots of great ideas, doesn't she?

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  14. Wonderful interview, Shannon and Cynthia! Love the cover of the book.

    Cynthia, hope you are doing well. I've been thinking about you...and keeping you in my prayers for a complete and speedy recovery.

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    1. I am so pleased you like the cover. The artist is Timothy Decker and he has a very cool website.

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  15. This sounds like a wonderful book. Congrats to Shannon, and thanks for featuring her, Cynthia.

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    1. Jessie is a wonderful novel, Marcia. It was my pleasure to showcase this novel and Shannon.

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  16. I apologize for being so late to get over here. This week has been a zoo timewise since I was only at the computer for a couple of hours each on two separate days. Lots of good information here. I wish Shannon the best with The Ballad of Jessie Pearl. And I hope you'll be back with us more often.

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    1. No apologies necessary, Carol! And I hope to be back more often soon. I miss regular blogging and my bloggy pals. ; )

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  17. Shannon's book sounds wonderful. Can't wait to get my hands on it!

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  18. congrats to Shannon and lovely to meet her! I hope your treatments are going well, Cynthia. I'm always so happy whenever you pop by my blog as I know how incredibly busy you must be. Sending you lots of healing thoughts.
    hugs!

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. Thank you, thank you, Nutschell! It's always a pleasure to visit your blog!

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  19. I read Shannon's book earlier this month. It's fantastic!

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  20. Best wishes for Shannon and her release!! Wow, selling novels out the back of her car--inventive and cool!

    Hope the radiation didn't make you sick, CCW. :(

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  21. Thanks, Carol!
    Isn't Shannon impressive?
    Radiation mostly made me tired--as expected. But it's behind me now, so yea! : )

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